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APSU science students score summer research positions at Brookhaven, NASA and more

APSU is boasting an unprecedented number of science majors who have earned prestigious summer research positions.

To have this many students from such a small university being accepted to these very competitive summer research programs says something about the quality of APSUs science programs, says Dr. Jaime Taylor, professor and chair of the department of physics and astronomy. Not only do these students get to work with scientists in major research facilities, they also get paid $3,000 to $5,000 plus room and board.
APSU is boasting an unprecedented number of science majors who have earned prestigious summer research positions.

“To have this many students from such a small university being accepted to these very competitive summer research programs says something about the quality of APSU's science programs,” says Dr. Jaime Taylor, professor and chair of the department of physics and astronomy. “Not only do these students get to work with scientists in major research facilities, they also get paid $3,000 to $5,000 plus room and board.”

The following physics students have been awarded summer research positions:

•Landon Clark has been invited to attend Brookhaven National Laboratory's prestigious ACS Nuclear Chemistry Summer School in Upton, N.Y. This educational program emphasizes nuclear medicine, nuclear power, fundamental particle physics and environmental radiochemistry. Clark says, “The ACS Summer School position will allow me to gain laboratory experience with nuclear materials, which will be applicable to my future career in medical physics.”

•Nathan Campbell, Chase Cox and Cameron Druyor—all completing just their freshman year at APSU—will perform research in material science at Fisk University.

•Bryan Gaither, a rising sophomore, will participate in NASA's Robotics Internship Program at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. He says, “I love the physics and engineering behind robotics. I grew up as a ‘Lego' child; the only difference now is my toys have gotten larger and much more expensive.”

•Mike Gaither has been invited to work in the Experimental Molecular Dynamics Group at North Carolina State University. The research project he will be working on deals with nanoscale science and the study of molecular rotors, torsional molecular dynamics and artificial molecular dielectrics.

•Chris Garber is returning to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. He will be performing weapons and protective systems research with the Office of Law Enforcement Standards. According to Garber, this type of research interests him especially, because he has eight years of military experience, as well as three years of law enforcement experience.

•Morgan Halfhill has been awarded the Society of Physics Students Outreach/Policy Internship, which involves developing the 2006 Student Outreach Catalyst Kit and other SPS outreach materials at the American Center for Physics in College Park, Md.

•Justin Roper will serve as a teaching assistant at Brookhaven National Laboratory's prestigious ACS Nuclear Chemistry Summer School in Upton, N.Y. He was a student in the program last summer.

•Bill Talkington will participate in the Marshall University and West Virginia State University NSF REU Bio-Inspired Chemistry Research Program. He says, “This opportunity interested me, because it offered a chance to experience intense research with experienced scientists. I also will have an opportunity to experience working in a cross-disciplinary environment with biologists and chemists.”

In addition, the following chemistry students have been awarded summer research positions:

•Lance Baird has been invited to work in polymer characterization and development at the University of Southern Mississippi School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, Hattiesburg. He says, “I learned about polymers earlier this semester and thought they were pretty interesting. The research I will perform this summer relates to a career path that I may want to pursue.”

•William Farkas has been accepted into Vanderbilt's Summer Science Academy. He will be working under Dr. Heidi Hamm, studying the structure of G-proteins. Farkas says the program interested him, because they are performing “cutting-edge research” in pharmacology, and he wanted the opportunity to “see what research was about before applying to medical school.” Farkas also was invited to participate in a clinical internship in Savannah, Ga., as well as a separate research program at UT-Memphis.

•Kenneth Robertson has been invited to the Center of Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia at Athens. Robertson, who also will have the opportunity to work as a youth intern at a local church, says the position interested him because of the “unique opportunity to work with world-class professors in a relaxed research environment investigating molecular structure on a quantum level.”

•Alton Williams will participate in a public health internship program run by Morehouse College in Atlanta. He says, “I am interested in attending medical school and eventually working in international public health administration. This internship is an opportunity for me to see what that career is like.”

Dr. Carrie Brennan, assistant professor of chemistry, says, “It is harder to be accepted to a chemistry REU (research experience for undergraduates) than it is to get into medical school. There are 2.8 med school applications for each available seat, compared to 4.4 chemistry REU applications for every REU seat. So it is extremely impressive that so many of our science students are being granted these opportunities.”

For more information, telephone Taylor at (931) 221-6361 or Brennan at (931) 221-7623.
—Rebecca Mackey